Veteran Gandhian Mathematician P.C.Vaidya passes away

Veteran Gandhian Mathematician P.C.Vaidya passes away
By Japan K Pathak
Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat, 12 March, 2010

Veteran Mathematician and Ex-Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University professor Shri Prahalad Chunnilal Vaidya(P.C.Vaidya) – famous for his Vaidya Metric internationally – passed away today morning. He was in his early 90s. Internationally renown for his several researches and theories in the field of mathematics, and truly Gandhian PC Vaidya was one of the last educationists of Gandhian generation in Gujarat.

When he was a Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University, he used to ride on a bicycle. Till he was healthy, he used to visit Gujarat University’s department that he represented in early days of his career on big black bicycle wearing Gandhi topi. For last several years, Vaidya Saheb was almost limited to his house in Ahmedabad’s Shardanagar area due to poor health.

Einstein’s theory of gravity is described by a set of rather complicated equations which use the mathematics of Riemannian geometry. It is very difficult to solve these equations, and particularly so to find solutions which describe physically interesting solution. But in 1942 Prahalad Chunnilal Vaidya(PC Vaidya) did pioneering work which led to just such a solution. The Vaidya Metric provided a solution to Einstein’s equations which describes the gravitational field of a star which emits a great deal of radiation(search Vaidya Metric in Google and you would be amazed to know what amount of research has been made on the bases of Vaidya Sir’s theory).

Being a freedom fighter, Shri Vaidya joined Ahimsak Vyayam Sangh in 1930s. When Vaidya heard Professor V.V.Narlikar(father of Jayant Narlikar)’s lecture in 1937 in Mumbai, he wrote a postcard requesting that he wanted to work with him. Shri Narlikar replied positively and invited Vaidya to join him. Thus Shri Vaidya went to Banaras with his wife and 6-month-old child. Vaidya then shifted to Mumbai to work with Shri Homi Bhabha at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He then became professor of Mathematics in Vallabh Vidyanagar, then in Visnagar and finally in Ahmedabad. Here he became Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University. Vaidya was instrumental in starting the Gujarat Mathematical Society. He had friendly relation with Shri Vikram Sarabhai in 1960s. A meeting with Sarabhai led to formation of the Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre in Ahmedabad where first mathematical laboratory was set up. Shri Vaidya always believed that if could be difficult to teach mathematics but it is certainly not difficult to learn mathematics. He believed that mathematics is something that is in our culture.